As the girl who always has the “lit” playlist when it comes to all things trap music (even though I love all genres), my friends were highly in question as to why I was going to a concert with a double header that consisted of an acapella group and another group whose genre I could hardly explain. Well, let me take you to the fabulous era of around 2012 when my middle school self was a self proclaimed junkie of youtube covers. One day, as I sat there with my One Direction pillow, I totally “discovered” this amazingly cool group called Postmodern Jukebox. They had a unique vibe different from any of the other youtubers, and did I mention that the costumes were AMAZING. Flash forward, I sat with one of my best friends (who is equally obsessed with the group) in the cool summer breeze of Downtown Raleigh, patiently awaiting their arrival on stage. Bruno Mars and some other chill, pop-y tunes drifted through the air as we waited. Jon McLaughlin broke the ice, his raspy voice being the perfect soundtrack for the gloomy sky.
The props on stage had a very Gatsby era feel, perfectly matching the font used to announce the arrival of Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox (PMJ). I’ve honestly never seen a crowd of 50-somethings so hype. Enter Ariana Savalas, the groups humourous and seductive “FemC.” After seeing how much of the crowd were first timers to PMJ’s show, she then referred to herself as “a real Cherry Poppins.” A few more innuendos and jokes about being in the Bible Belt later, the covers began. Taylor Swift and Meghan Trainor’s more popular tunes set the high energy tone for the rest of PMJ’s set. The next cover to follow was of Rihanna and Jay Z’s classic, “Umbrella.” It was very befitting, as we would need one for the subsequent monsoon to happen later in the evening.
As Dani Armstrong Kapler grasped the crowd with her absolutely stunning cover of Sia’s “Chandelier,” my friend and I looked over to see a woman crying. The woman was who we would later discover to be Kapler’s mother in law, Lyn Whitset. Whitset is a Raleigh native, who came to support her amazingly talented daughter in law. Kapler’s cover was nothing short of chill inducing, however it also could be due in part to the rain.
The night went on, and we got to listen to more toe-tapping covers, as well as watch the group’s “toe-tapper.” That was when the rain came. (Think: that scene in “Forrest Gump” where Bubba said “It even rained from the ground” type rain.) The rain didn’t come by itself, either. It was accompanied by ground lightning. PMJ ended their set as we were moved into the neighboring convention center in hopes that the storm would pass. To an extent, it did. About half an hour later, the show was back on and out into the amphitheater we went.
Enter Straight No Chaser. Now, disclaimer: neither my friend nor I knew anything about this group prior to sitting down and waiting for the show to start. When we realized it was an acapella group, we were super excited for a high energy show, with some killer harmonies and medleys. We got more of the latter than the former. Vocally, the group had an amazing sound with wonderful energy. Watching them was a different story. Only a few members had body energy and stage presence when they weren’t directly in the spotlight. That was a big disappointment. However, as the set went on and as the group really began to feel the music, it made for much more of a stage presence and a much more enjoyable show.
The mix of songs was really wonderful. From Bob Marley and Judy Garland medleys, to a general cover of Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like,” Straight No Chaser did very well with keeping all age groups in the crowd interested. For some, the set even brought them to their feet dancing. Now, some more background information about myself: I love old school boy bands (Boyz II Men, NSYNC, etc.) and Beyonce. A lot. Like, if you are to turn either one on at any point, you can guarantee I will be thoroughly lit. They did fabulous medleys of both, so I was thoroughly lit. Dancing in the rain type lit, as it had begun to rain. Again.
The highlight of their set was their parody of some very popular Broadway tunes. I don’t know if I necessarily liked the group as musicians, but they are very good comedians. That medley along with more jokes about the Bible Belt from several members of the group made for a very entertaining end to the evening. Cue the end of the show, each of the members told some fun facts about themselves and each individually thanked the crowd for coming. It was in this moment that Jerome Collins (my absolute favorite member of the group) told the crowd to “look out” for his new wine, “Pinot Negro,” and also thanked the “whole 7 black people who showed up,” as he didn’t feel “quite as alone.” I’d like to take this moment to say that it was 7 and a half, Mr. Collins, if you ever read this.
We walked out of the amphitheater laughing, soaking wet, and newly huge fans of Jerome Collins. It had definitely been a great night. Both groups did great in terms of their sets, while also keeping the crowd laughing and involved in the show itself. For my first outdoor concert experience and acapella concert experience, it was truly memorable and fabulous. Neither group fell short of any expectations and overall, it was very enjoyable. 10/10 would recommend.